Thursday, September 4, 2014

How ISIS is Recruiting Americans to Fight For It While Beheading Those It Doesn't Like

This summer has been one of the most bizarre in recent history, a bonfire of blood.  As our attention has been focused on the unrest in cities like Ferguson, Israel and Gaza exploded in a rocket and bomb exchange, Ukraine has been overrun by Russia’s mercenaries, Ebola is getting out of control in Africa (and threatens the world) and that’s before we get to Iraq. The Pandora’s Box that was kicked open in the 2003 invasion of Iraq continues to spawn more horrors, now in the guise of ISIS, a killing machine so extreme is was kicked out of Al Qaida! It has been murdering Muslims, Iraqi minorities, Syrian soldiers even before it beheaded two Americans while recruiting Americans to come fight against us and our Iraqi allies. 

Killing Americans while recruiting Americans -- it doesn’t get much more strange than that. How do we fix this?

Donald Morgan is one of those Americans who fell into the “Internet Brainwashing” of ISIS and went to fight “jihad” in Syria. He has returned. Is he a threat to Americans?  Why is ISIS attractive to Americans who decide to fight for our enemies? It turns out that Minneapolis, Minnesota is a prime area for recruiting young jihadists. Who would think it would happen in a state known as "Minnesota nice?"

Apparently Mr. Morgan was an “angry young man” with no job, struggling to “fit in.” He felt mistreated by authorities. Then one day he started watching hours on the Internet, intently following the fighting in the Middle East and the slick recruitment videos of ISIS (young men sitting around, talking in English how “cool” it is to come over and “do jihad” to protect the faith.)  Suddenly, Morgan’s friends said “he changed” and before they knew it he was leaving America to “defend Islam” and wage war. Then he came back. Can we trust him? I really doubt it.

How many more of these Donald Morgan’s does America (and our European allies) have?
Part of the problem is that we have angry young men with too much time on their hands, no job and easy access to the global brainwashing now possible. When I hear Americans say “All Muslims are terrorists,” I know that is not true. But when young Muslims hear their religion constantly being attacked, then groups like ISIS can use that to convince these gullible young men that they are doing the right thing to join them--even though it is all a big lie by ISIS. 

ISIS does not represent Islam any more than the Catholics who were setting off car bombs in Northern Ireland in the 70’s represented true Christianity.

They enter Syria by going to Turkey, which has a long border with Syria. Turkey is doing almost nothing to stop these young men. It is the same entry point used by the journalists who were killed in Syria. More could be done to block these young wannabe fighters from Europe and America at the border.  

Back here in the U.S. and in Europe, we need to get these young men into jobs, but Congress has refused to pass any jobs bills or major infrastructure bills to fix our 70 year old bridges, etc. that would create jobs for those living on the margin. We need to establish dialogue between cultures and tone down the prejudice that Muslims encounter – which is not unlike that faced by young black men and Hispanics every day. We need to show them that America is a great country because it is not a sectarian nation, but is a tolerant society in which all religions are freely practiced and all deserve respect – a nation where differences are not settled with armed miltias but in a court of law.

At the same time we must attack ISIS in Syria, with local and global allies, to neutralize these unredeemable extremists and the American heavy weapons they stole from Iraq.  But then Iraq must fix its political system so that it is as tolerate of each different religious group as America is. 

ISIS lack of tolerance and promotion of conflict has also been embraced by Mr. Putin, who needs to put Russia back on the road to democracy and press freedom. Instead, Putin has been promoting armed aggression in Ukraine where he has taken over the Crimea and seems to be bent on taking more Ukrainian land to establish a land route to his latest conquest. This is just like ISIS. In Russia, all the media is state-owned and Russian people have no independent news source.  They don't see the same news we do in the U.S. and Europe.

Therefore, America must continue to lead by example.

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